Traveler's Guide To The Google's Visitor Center In The Googleplex

Visiting Google

When it comes to an adventure that gets you up close and personal with some of the finest technology that graces the face of the planet, you’re going to be hard-pressed to locate a more productive endeavor than a trip to the Googleplex. The renowned corporate headquarters for technology conglomerate Google, Inc., the Googleplex exists as one of the certifiable gems of Santa Clara County, California, a haven for technological innovation as well as groundbreaking, cutting-edge security developments. Today, the Googleplex easily stands as the world’s largest cluster of Google buildings, spanning 3,100,000 square feet (290,000 m2) of total space.

The name itself is derived from the combination of “Google” with “complex”, indicative of the purpose of the cohesive structures, as well as from the number googolplex, 10 exponentiated to a heightened degree. Once owned by Silicon Graphics, and leased to Google since 2003, the Googleplex is a verifiable must-see, must-experience site for any techie; suffice to say, any individual who wishes to exist on the cutting edge of Google innovations would do well to spend time on this inclusive campus.

Google's main lobby

Google Mountain View California - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Noah_Loverbear used under CC BY-SA 3.0

You’re going to want to begin your discovery of the Googleplex in the hub of all of the action: right in the central lobby area! Immediately, you’re going to notice that perhaps the most impressive feature of the lobby is actually projected upon one of its walls. This feature, one of the most anticipated characteristics of the entirety of the Googleplex by new visitors, is what’s known as the “live search” wall. Projected onto one of the lobby’s facades is a running, constantly updated list of new Google searches, sourced from all over the world. You can actually watch what fellow Google users are searching for, in real time, via this continuous updated, visible database!

Google bikes

Googleplex - June 2019 (5842)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gregory Varnum used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Interestingly enough, the Googleplex is known as much for its dominant host company as for its diversified array of attractions, many of which are as wacky as they are dynamic. The ideal way to see and to experience each and every one of these sensational sights and sounds? By way of the free-to-use Google bikes, of course! One of the innovative new features of the Googleplex is their free bike system, where anyone who works or has an appointment on the campus may use a Google bike for efficient, manpowered transportation, around the complete extent of the wide site. They’re impossible to miss; these multicolored transportation vehicles provide the location with all of the flair for which they’re known. This primary colored design characterizes not only the bikes, but also much of the decorative art and architecture of the site itself. With easy-to-ride seats and a basket mounted to the front for any and all of your accompanying supplies, Google bikes are the perfect method by which employees can count themselves privileged witnesses to the world of the Googleplex at large!


Google Mountain View campus dinosaur skeleton 'Stan'
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ashstar01 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

We’re not sure exactly what purpose the massive, iron tyrannosaurus rex serves on the campus of the Googleplex. However, we would be remiss if we neglected to mention one of the most iconic sites on the entire property. As if this attraction isn’t picture-worthy enough on its own, several Google employees will often take it upon themselves to dress the tyrannosaurus up, more often than not by decorating it with a liberal selection of pink flamingos. We’re not sure why plastic, pink flamingos are the decoration of choice when it comes to one of the only iron dinosaur replicas in this region of the state, but we can’t pretend we don’t enjoy the project immensely. For your own information, the dinosaur is affectionately named Stan, and has existed on campus at the Googleplex since 2006.

Reportedly, the founders of Google were responsible for the purchase of the tyrannosaurus, to remind employees each and every day that it is the responsibility of Google to remain both relevant and creative; if they do not, they will fade into the past, much like the dinosaur portrayed outside.

The GARField

Looking Through a Human Soccer Ball
Source: Photo by Flickr user Travis Wise used under CC BY 2.0

When it comes to the necessity for recreation, employees and locals to the region don’t have far to look! The GARField (Google Athletic Recreation Field) is the perfect place for employees to make quick use of their unprecedented recreational amenities! It’s also an ideal location for visitors and locals alike to get their exercise on, as the facilities are open to the public every night, as well as on select weekend days! The Gogole-owned and operated sports structures include well-maintained tennis courts, as well as assorted multipurpose sports fields, which are employed both for recreational means, for competitive undertakings, and for team building exercises, throughout the course of what ropes to be a busy year at GARField. The fields also offer visitors the chance to try their hand at Frisbee golf! Featuring swings and artificial turf, this is also the perfect location to bring the entire family, where everyone can bond under what promises to be a perpetually sunny California sky.

Google's Sculpture Garden

Android Lawn Statues (12758285644)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Atomic Taco used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Another free to experience, free to enjoy attraction which basks in the sunshine of the Googleplex itself is a collection of Android lawn statues! There is perhaps no better agency than Google when it comes to the transformation of business into an art form. The concept certainly rings true when it comes to their assorted Android lawn decorations; the installment succeeds both as an unorthodox artistic piece, as well as a popular photo opportunity for visitors and employees alike!

The statues which characterize Google’s Sculpture Garden prove as varied as they are valuable. Among them is a series of diversified renditions of Google’s various, escalating operating systems; given that Google will name their current Android operating system after a type of candy, visitors can gaze upon the likes of cupcakes, donuts, and even honeycomb!

Sculptures are also intricate in nature. The installment representative of Google’s respective operating systems involve not only the candy or sugar item itself; many are also accompanied by the company’s signature green Android robot. For example, representations of operating systems Jelly Bean, Marshmallow, and Nougat all include the Android robot by some means or manner, whether that be by filling a robot-shaped container full of oversized jelly beans, or by allowing the robot itself to wield an oversized marshmallow.

Google’s Sculpture Garden also includes various tributes to its many milestones. To commemorate the onset of the Google Nexus One, which existed as the first standalone Google phone, as well as the flagship phone for Android 2.2, Google has actually elected to implement a statue rendition of the phone within its Statue Garden. Each of Google’s fifteen statues has been installed as more than an art piece: each acknowledges the creation of some major company milestone, whether that be a new device or a new operating system. With the exception of one statue, each has been customized and delivered by Themendous. Take note of the fact that there’s something special about the massive sculpture of the Android robot, located directly outside of the Android building. Specifically, his eyes glow red after the sun sets!

Google Cafe

Google cafeteria (9599475435)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Roman Boed used under CC BY 2.0

Images are currently unavailable.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; surprisingly, the Googleplex sports a diversified menu which not only offers employees and visitors a wide selection, but a menu of consistently high quality. Those who frequent the Googleplex are often in the habit of raving about the the cafeteria, a surprise given the location’s technology-centered mindset. Nevertheless, judging solely by the dishes which come out of the Googleplex cafeteria, visitors would be wise to give this spot a fighting chance to prove itself. After all, it isn’t often that a technology hub provides visitors with award-winning devices, and award-winning food alike!

At the Googleplex cafeteria, the menu options prove as diverse as they are enjoyable. From ham and cheese omelettes served with a side of stir fried wild rice and potatoes, to a quinoa breakfast cereal with almonds, sunflower seeds, agave, blackberries, and cashews, there’s plenty to choose from. When was the last time that a company so centered around the proliferation of technology took the time to perfect the quality of their cafeteria? If the Googleplex’s asparagus salads, chicken enchiladas, beef brisket bistro, or crab corn chowder have anything to say about the matter, times are changing. Whether you’re looking for lobster on the go, or the full sit-down restaurant experience, the cafeteria at the Googleplex is ready and able to render your food and beverage needs a thing of the past. Restaurants are even color-coded for general healthiness; green obviously indicates a maximum healthiness, yellow indicates a moderate amount of unhealthy materials, and red is well indicative of a menu which, though likely as delicious as the rest, is perhaps not as health-minded in nature.

The culinary experience only gets better when you learn that a vast quantity of the ingredients used in the world-class foods prepared daily at the Googleplex are actually grown onsite! Google’s own Earthbox, a revolutionary new technology that waters plants from the bottom, instead of from the top, is put to good use in the Google Garden. Home to many indigenous plant species from the surrounding area, as well as those plants most beneficial to the perpetuity of the cafeteria’s restaurants, the Google Garden is indeed the crucial cog in Google’s plan to eventually source any and all ingredients for the cafeteria from the garden itself. That would be one heck on an impressive feat. Reportedly, the space growing both vegetables and herbs is also frequently employed as the learning grounds for a local horticulture society, which regularly trains its students as to the values of gardening. These gardens are also typified by specific meditation spots for employees to enjoy.

Gift shop

Source: Photo by Flickr user Nan Palmero used under CC BY 2.0

Make sure that you don’t leave the Googleplex without first stocking up of a valuable, onsite-only souvenir! Open Monday to Friday, 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, the Google Merchandise Store exists as the Googleplex’s one-stop shop for anything and everything Google gear, from Google-themed bicycle clothing to Googleplex shirts to assorted tourist items. Ensure that you take some hardware home with you, courtesy of a quick trip to the Googleplex’s gift shop! You can’t miss the massive shop, located in Building 41, directly behind the large Android statues.

Behind closed doors

Bowling Alley
Source: Photo by Flickr user Travis Wise used under CC BY 2.0

It is worthy of note that perhaps the finest of localized perks are reserved only for the eyes and for the enjoyment of Google employees. These employee-only features reportedly include massage amenities, as well as complimentary yoga classes. Additionally, each Google employee is allowed to consume three gourmet meals a day for free, courtesy of their Google Cafe. As mentioned beforehand, should you receive the opportunity to experience the Google Cafe for yourself, it is not a chance you will want to forego.

Other famed corporate amenities hidden with the Googleplex include a bowling alley, which is only for the enjoyment of those individuals lucky enough to be employed by Google itself. Employees can also take advantage of any one of the seven reported fitness centers within Google’s Santa Clara County headquarters, completely free of charge. The outdoor volleyball court is open to the public, but of course, Google employees are given precedent with regard to court time.

Before you go

The Googleplex
Source: Photo by Flickr user Addy Osmani used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Googleplex is undoubtedly one of the premiere landmarks in all of Santa Clara County. However, before you embark upon a journey to the campus of one of the nation’s foremost authorities in technology, ensure that you know exactly which features of the Googleplex are that day open to the public. Some of the above items are regularly closed to the public, given that the Googleplex is, after all, first a campus and a place of business, which serves first its employees over its guests.

Better yet, see if you can get in touch with any individual who works at the Googleplex. Even if you’re only able to get as far as the main lobby, you might glean an interesting fact or two from the Google representative who answers the phone, and at best, you may be given the rare opportunity to take a look at how the Googleplex operates, behind the scenes, on a typical workday!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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John Gallagher is a digital marketing consultant and writer from San Diego, California. When he isn't thoroughly enjoying the writing process or pretending he thoroughly enjoys the revision...Read more

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